Creating chances remains a problem for Swansea City but hopefully the return to fitness of Liam Walsh can help address this weakness.
The former Bristol City midfielder came off the bench against Millwall in midweek to make his first competitive appearance since joining the Swans in the summer.
He had an obvious impact on the match, giving his side a greater attacking threat. Walsh threaded a beautiful through-ball for fellow substitute Michael Obafemi, who unfortunately squeezed his effort narrowly wide. Walsh then nearly scored himself, forcing a smart save from a free-kick.
It was a promising cameo which suggested the Everton academy product who turned 24 earlier this week could become a key player for his new club.
Walsh is a cultured footballer with great ball control and an eye for a pass. He’s a midfielder whose first instinct is to look forward and try to find a way through the opposition and he has the necessary quality to contribute to goals if given the opportunity.
These are attributes which the Swans have lacked in the opening weeks of the season and in truth, they were lacking long before Russell Martin arrived here little more than a month ago.
Their total of 56 goals last season was the joint lowest for a top six Championship side since Brighton in 2013-14 and only a small handful of clubs created fewer chances than Swansea last season. So far in this campaign Swansea are once again near the foot of the table when it comes to fashioning scoring chances.
With just four goals in their opening seven games, they are the league’s joint lowest scorers.
The Swans have shown obvious improvement in a number of areas over recent weeks, including learning to pass the ball with more assurance, without taking as many needless risks in dangerous areas.
They also look more solid at the back but this will be tested today against a Luton side who will be keen to put defenders under pressure.
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But two goal-less draws against teams currently sat 15th and 21st in the table tell a clear story. The Swans have learned how to keep possession but they haven’t taken the more complicated step of learning how to use that possession to create problems for their opponents.
This is not something which will come overnight and will probably take time. It also won’t suddenly click thanks to a player like Walsh who, it should be noted isn’t a number 10 by trade and has other responsibilities other than chance creation, but he can certainly make a difference.
We know he’s talented enough to have an impact on this side. The only thing that’s held him back in the past is his injury record.
Walsh joined Bristol City in 2017 but only played 18 league games for the Robins, although he played 26 in a single loan stint at Coventry when they won the League One title in 2019-20.
He has been desperately unfortunate when it comes to his fitness. It’s sadly part and parcel of sport that some players have this awful misfortune which can sometimes plague them throughout their careers.
He is not the only injury prone player the Swans have picked up over the summer. Olivier Ntcham had several spells on the sidelines for Celtic over recent years and Michael Obafemi has also missed a lot of football, largely down to hamstring injuries.
But the signing of Walsh was by far the riskiest of these signings in that sense, having played fewer than 80 first team games in his entire career.
He has already been forced to miss the first month of the current campaign after getting hurt in pre-season. Hopefully his luck will improve and he can finally start enjoying his football again without getting hindered by injuries.
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It speaks volumes about his ability that Swansea were keen to take a gamble on a player like Walsh despite his well-known injury history. The Swans will be hoping the gamble pays off and we can eventually see him at his unhindered best.
It may require handling Walsh with kid gloves but if the Swans can manage his fitness effectively and get him playing regularly, they will see an exciting footballer who can help get the ball moving quicker, thereby increasing Swansea’s chances of scoring.
Swansea’s attack needs players like Walsh to speed up their build-up and play with the kind of dynamism required to pick holes in the opposition.
The entire Jack Army will be praying he can finally catch a break and show the Championship what he’s made of.
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